A slew of lawsuits could very well be on the horizon as Democrats gear up to push some of their long-held policy objectives, like universal mail-in voting, using the coronavirus pandemic as a political catalyst.
The United States economy remains at a standstill as the coronavirus, and the drastic measures taken to flatten the curve, continue to reign supreme. Nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks, and while Congress passed a bipartisan bill to provide emergency economy relief, many say it is simply not enough. Congress is gearing up to battle for the next phase of relief, but one seemingly unrelated issue appears to remain a sticking point for Democrats: universal mail-in voting.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) essentially revealed her party’s hand after crafting her own version of an emergency relief measure last month, jam-packed with a swathe of progressive policy objectives from Green New Deal initiatives to demands for federal and corporate gender and racial diversity data. Pelosi also included a suite of proposals to fundamentally change the way Americans vote in elections, including ballot harvesting and vote-by-mail. While her emergency relief bill failed to gain traction, the party’s main objective, to make mail-in voting an accepted, and even embraced, reality in the United States, was just getting started.
Many fear Democrats are using the crisis as a catalyst to achieve what have remained long-held Democrat Party political objectives — objectives that have been, primarily, battled in the court system. Perhaps none know this better than former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias — the same man connected with Fusion GPS and the anti-Trump Steele dossier. He has, throughout the crisis, proposed major changes to the way U.S. citizens vote, proposing mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, curbside voting, and “vote-anywhere” rules. He has seeded election-related lawsuits around the country over the years.
“He [Elias] was very strategic about it, very intentional abut seeding cases where he knew he was going to need to some ebb and flow,” True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht told Breitbart News.
“And now he is all over the airwaves talking about the coming mail-in ballot for November and the advent of voter harvesting and how that will work broadly,” she continued, emphasizing that he is effectively feeding the narrative to “hundreds of other groups that then take that and continue to push it.”
Election experts say this could cause the perfect storm, leading to a flurry of lawsuits from both sides, bringing a political atmosphere reminiscent of the days of Bush v. Gore.
“We know that the current partisan divide over the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court can be timed to the release of the Bush v. Gore decision,” Charles Stewart, a political science professor and “election expert” at MIT, told the Hill.
“So, we have to be worried both about the legitimacy of the result and the legitimacy of the courts,” he added.
U.S. conservative attorney Jim Bopp told Breitbart News that the left uses the court system as means to push its political objectives, particularly when it comes to voting methods.
“The left wants every person to be able to vote in America without regard to their citizenship, their qualifications, anything,” he said, adding that there are two aspects to the left’s goal.
“One aspect is that they view any requirement that a voter must need in order to vote, they view that as an unjust burden to right to vote. Anything. And that explains same-day registrations and so many of the things that they push,” he told Breitbart News.
He also said they know that their side “fairly routinely” practices voter fraud, and they “understand that as they expand the pool of voters by eliminating any requirements” — like forgoing voter IDs — they will be “naturally achieving a partisan advantage.”
Their other goal, he said, is to “push as many of these ballots into the ballot box.”
“That’s because once it’s in the ballot box, no matter what you prove, you can never stop it from being counted,” Bopp added.
“To accomplish these goals, they have a multi-tiered strategy. The way they think they can best do this is through the courts or by federalizing it,” Bopp explained, emphasizing their use of the courts and noting that they believe it is “more likely that they can achieve these goals through those mechanisms rather than having state by state regulation of elections.”
“That explains their approach to all this,” he said, adding that they are, in court, trying to “turn the right to vote into any absolute right that any burden or regulation of the right of voting is unconstitutional.”
What we’ve also seen and we’re seeing in New Mexico right now is that they go to the New Mexico Supreme Court, and they want the New Mexico Supreme Court to rip regulation of elections out of the hands of the legislature where it is right now … [and] having the court decide what is appropriate of regulations of an election in the situation.
Simply put, Democrats, Bopp suggested, tend to push against voting methods that have the most safeguards. For progressives, the current crisis could serve as a prime opportunity to advance these goals and diminish traditional voting methods with the most safeguards, such as in-person voting, as fear over the virus continues to loom large.
As the Hill reported, election lawsuits are already pending across the country:
The fight over expanding voting options has already sparked legal battles. Texas is one of the states that has cases pending in court over efforts to expand mail-in balloting.
Under the current state election rules in Texas, only voters with a “qualifying reason” — advanced age, disability, incarceration or planned travel — can mail in ballots, despite public health guidance to avoid public gatherings. But a lawsuit filed by Texas Democrats ahead of the July primary runoff seeks to have that criteria expanded by including social distancing as a qualifying disability.
“There are a number of issues courts may address related to the vote by mail and the coronavirus,” Rick Hasen, a law and political science professor at University of California Irvine, told the Hill.
“Do states have to expand ballot deadlines to deal with a flood of absentee ballots? Do voters have a right to be told their absentee ballots have been rejected and given the opportunity to ‘cure’ a problem for rejecting a ballot like a purported signature mismatch?” he asked.
Congress is gearing up to craft the next phase of relief as progressives continue to come out in unison, demanding mail-in voting amid the pandemic, and possibly beyond. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is pushing a bill, the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 (NDEBA), which expands “no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail” to all states. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) supports the measure but has offered a plan of her own that contains a variety of key progressive objectives, including universal mail-in voting, a ban on cleaning voter rolls, and a “sworn statement of identity instead of a voter ID” for in-person voting.
She is also calling for the next phase of economic relief to provide $4 billion to “ensure that states have the resources they need to successfully administer elections — while ensuring these resources are used appropriately by conditioning funding on adopting specific measures that will protect voters and reduce barriers to voting.”
The last relief bill provided $400 million to support election assistance. But as Pelosi has signaled, the war is just beginning.
“We’ve seen this perfect storm coming for some time, and now it is coming with such focus and ferocity,” Engelbrecht told Breitbart News.
“This is bigger than mail-in,” she said. “This is fundamentally changing the way election laws are and election processes are handled in the country.”